- P, OF
- November 30, 1870
- 6' 1"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-27-1891 with ML3
He was a feisty player, a fighter who enjoyed being in the middle of a troublesome situation. When push came to shove though, Frank Killen was one of the greatest pitchers in the 19th century and certainly the first true Pittsburgh superstar to come from the mound corps.
Killen began as a catcher while growing up in Pittsburgh, before deciding to become a pitcher. He played in the International League and Western Association before being signed by Milwaukee of the American Association in 1891. When Milwaukee folded after the season, he hooked on with Washington in the National League where he lasted only one season before being traded to Pittsburgh for Charley Farrell after a contract dispute with Washington in the off-season.
The hometown pitcher took well to his new surroundings and led the senior circuit in wins while fashioning a 36-14 record, leading the Bucs to a second place finish in 1893.
He had one of the best fastballs in his day and the speed of his pitch was one of the reasons that the powers that be decided to move the mound from 50 feet to the 60’ 6” that it is today
After breaking his arm the following season, which put him out for the rest of the campaign, off a line drive by Cleveland’s Patsy Tebeau, Killen would be spiked in a game on June 11th, 1885. The wound turned into severe blood poisoning and put him in the hospital for 49 days and left him once again out of action. Pirate manger Connie Mack claimed the gash is what cost the club the pennant in 1885
With the two injury shortened seasons behind him, Frank came back in 1896 to once again lead the NL in wins with a 30-18 record. It would be the last time in National League history that a southpaw won more than 30 games in a season. Controversy reared its ugly head again during that campaign when Killen belted umpire Daniel Lally over a disputed pitch. Lally hit Killen afterwards and hundreds of baseball fans stormed the field afterwards. Frank would later be charged with assault for the incident.
After two sub par years which included the feisty pitcher putting an end to Willie Keeler’s record 44 game hitting streak in June of 1897, Killen was eventually sold to Washington in 1898, but will go down in history as one of Pittsburgh all time best pitchers.
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- Frank Killen